Narcissists are self-absorbed and self-involved so much that they ignore others’ feelings (1). If you know someone, you need to learn how to disarm a narcissist to tackle their manipulative strategies effectively. It’s difficult to understand their intentions as sometimes they look so charming with their phony behavior and sweet words, but then they start to showcase their boastful attitude and inflated self-esteem. They can even manipulate you and make you say ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no.’ It’s wise to keep a distance from someone who exhibits narcissistic tendencies as they could disregard your feelings and could also hurt you. So, keep reading this post as we bring you some effective ways of disarming a narcissist, but remember to protect yourself by not trying all the methods altogether, as the narcissist may become suspicious of your intentions. You may use a few of these call-out tactics to maneuver yourself from the situation.
What Is Disarming A Narcissist?
We cannot control or neutralize an individual’s narcissistic behavior. Therefore, we must be able to spot them and disarm them to protect ourselves from being hurt. Disarming a narcissist involves actions that protect you from the person’s narcissism and might also help tone it down a bit. It is necessary to plan an exit if you find yourself in such a situation.
The biggest challenge with disarming a narcissist is that they are manipulative, selfish, and demanding yet exceptionally charming (2). Therefore, you must be aware, be in control of your emotions and firmly reject declarations to avoid feeding their ego to disarm them.
12 Tips To Disarm A Narcissist
The best way to disarm a narcissist is to be better prepared. Here are 12 effective tips for disarming a narcissist.
1. Keep your cool
If you know a narcissist, you know how much they love to fight. The best way to disarm a narcissist is to keep your cool and not press the ‘argue’ button with them. When you lose your cool and end up fighting with a narcissist, they will pin you down as the bad person. Keep your cool, reduce contact, and don’t respond the way they want you to. This requires some strong emotional conditioning on your part but, eventually, when you don’t react, the narcissist will back off and move on.
2. Avoid feeding their ego
Narcissists have inflated self-esteem and ego. They may already be used to being praised or lauded for things they do or have done. Feeding this ego is dangerous for their narcissism and others who deal with them (3). An effective way to subtly defuse a narcissist is by not feeding their ego. Once the narcissist is used to you not praising them, they are less likely to affect you later.
3. Don’t take responsibility for their actions
Every time you deal with a narcissist, remember that you are not responsible for their thoughts and feelings. It is very natural for most people who fight with a narcissist to go on a guilt trip and feel responsible for what happened because they can manipulate emotions. But remember that if a narcissist is angry with you, you are not responsible for it. Offering to take the blame for what happened is the worst thing to do. As you ignore the narcissist and do not take any blame, they will eventually recover from their outburst and move on.
Nathan Drew, a vlogger, shares his experiences of living with a narcissistic host father when he moved to Argentina to study Spanish. He says, “He was a really demanding guy. Very manipulative. He would use long silences to make me feel stupid or felt like I was always doing something wrong, screwing things up, and it kind of felt like I was falling into his mental traps (i).”
4. Avoid ultimatums
Trying to gain control and giving ultimatums is not healthy for any relationship. When dealing with a narcissist, many people are tempted to use ultimatums. If you do not like the narcissist’s behavior, resorting to ultimatums is stooping to their level to get things done. When you use ultimatums or force, you are allowing the narcissist to do the same.
5. Don’t give them negative attention
The last thing you want to give a narcissist is attention, especially negative attention. Narcissists crave attention but giving them negative attention, such as lashing out at them, targeting them, or humiliating them, can result in them holding a grudge against you. Stay focused and do not criticize them because it will not make you feel any better.
6. Be empathetic
If there is one way you can reach the mind of a narcissist, it is by empathy. You don’t have to call them out or expose them. Instead, an empathic confrontation is an effective way to get a narcissist to listen to you and is often used by therapists to treat people with narcissistic tendencies. Develop a deep understanding of why they think a specific way and use this information to confront them about their behavior. Over a period, the narcissist may become receptive and oblige to visit a therapist or counselor for further treatment.
7. Always remember their nature
Narcissists hurt people in more ways than one. When you feel upset or bad about a narcissist’s unacceptable behavior, remind yourself to manage expectations and that they are suffering from a problem they have no control over. That’s how they are wired!
Also, remember that their nature, behavior, and personality disorder have nothing to do with you, and you are in no way responsible for their behavior. Whatever they might say about you is not true, and you must always keep your self-esteem high.
Naya Lizardo, a writer who faced narcissistic abuse, talks about how her past has shaped her into the woman she is now. She says, “It may appear passionate and intense, but these behaviors are not born out of love but instead of the desire to dominate and manipulate. It took me time to understand this, but I finally realized that my well-being is not something I should ever compromise, even when I’m head over heels in love (ii).”
8. Maintain clear, firm boundaries
Narcissists are the last people to follow their prior commitments, even if that has to do with staying within their limits. When you are dealing with a narcissist, you must set clear, firm boundaries (4). Withstand pressure of giving into their whims. Also, never say or commit to something that you do not intend to do.
To safeguard yourself from a narcissist, you must do all you can to ensure you and they stay within their defined boundaries. Do not let them dominate or overpower you. If a narcissist crosses the boundaries, you must promptly show them their place, even if it means legal action.
9. Accept that you cannot change their behavior
It is natural for you to want to help someone with narcissism, but it will only aggravate their behavior. Instead of falling prey to their charming, gas-lighting, and manipulative ways, accept that you cannot change their behavior or personality disorder. The fact that they haven’t changed in so much time is indicative that they might not do even in the future. Accepting that you cannot change their behavior will diminish your expectations and give them less power to trouble or manipulate you emotionally.
10. Don’t try to win
Many of us deal with narcissists in our day-to-day lives and try to beat them at their game or outsmart them. However, this is not a good idea. By doing so, you are only helping them and adding fuel to the fire.
While your anger, frustration, and hatred come naturally, you should accept these feelings and move on. Avert conversations or stop responding if you think you might lose your cool. Every time you feel like giving it back to the narcissist, tell yourself that their behavior is their problem, and without your consent, they cannot put you down. These thoughts are instantly liberating and make dealing with a narcissist easy.
11. Ignore at times
If you are dealing with a narcissist who is not in your close circle of friends and family, the best way to disarm them is to ignore them. Be it a workplace colleague, a neighbor, or a parent in your child’s school, ignoring a narcissist gives them fewer chances to interact with you.
12. Build your self-esteem
Dealing with a narcissist regularly can be taxing and begin to affect your self-esteem. Many people live with a narcissist’s emotional abuse for years out of love and/or respect. In most cases, the non-narcissist begins to lose their self-esteem, making it even more difficult to live with a narcissist. An effective way to disarm a narcissist is to rebuild your self-esteem to give yourself the strength you need to deal with one.
Lizardo adds, “One of the hardest, yet most vital, lessons I’ve learned is that I cannot afford to put myself last. In a world that often encourages us to always consider others, it’s easy to forget ourselves in the process. But self-care is not selfishness. Taking care of my own needs, mentally and emotionally, is crucial. After all, I can’t pour from an empty cup. I’ve found that prioritizing my well-being allows me to be more present and available for the people I care about.”
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are narcissists good at finding faults?
When things don’t seem to go in their favor, narcissists tend to find faults or blame others for mishappenings in their life.
2. What happens if I give a narcissist the silent treatment?
When you cut contact with a narcissist, they may revert and try to contact you in any way possible. They do so because they may view your silent treatment as a rejection and tend to become irritable when avoided.
3. What are some common traits of a narcissist?
Common traits of a narcissist include excessive self-importance, a lack of empathy, a need for constant admiration, a sense of entitlement, and manipulative behavior for personal gain. They may often display arrogance, a lack of accountability, and a tendency to belittle others. However, it is important to remember that a professional evaluation is necessary to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder accurately.
4. What are a narcissist’s weaknesses?
Narcissists may have several weaknesses, including the possibility of having fragile self-esteem that may be easily damaged by criticism. They may struggle to form genuine relationships due to their self-centered nature, potentially leading to feelings of loneliness. They are likely to lack empathy, which may hinder their ability to connect emotionally with others. They may heavily rely on external validation, increasing their vulnerability to fluctuations in others’ opinions. Additionally, they may experience difficulty with intimacy and vulnerability, affecting the development of deep and meaningful connections.
Knowing how to disarm a narcissist is often necessary for people who live with a narcissist. Emotional abuse from a narcissist is common, and it can damage the self-esteem of their near and dear ones. Understanding how a narcissist thinks and that they do not behave this way purposefully can help you ignore their remarks and empathize with them. You can disarm a narcissist by telling them that you feel sorry for how they feel or by expressing your disagreement by saying you disagree but you stand by their right to express their opinion. You may also help them seek professional support to overcome their problems. But if these tactics don’t work for you, it is important to understand that you may have to end the relationship to protect yourself.
Infographic: Effective Words To Disarm A Narcissist
A narcissist, by nature, is manipulative and inconsiderate and may not listen to your explanations. So while disarming, you must know the right words to say to stop feeding their ego and selfish motives. These phrases can help you stay strong and unfazed by their tactics if you are with such a person.
- To deal with narcissists, you need to accept their behavior that you cannot change.
- Avoid feeding their egos and maintain your calm.
- You could try being empathetic while dealing with a narcissist.
Learn how to shut down a narcissist with these 20 key phrases. Disarm them today and take back control of your life. Get the power to stand up for yourself and protect your mental health.
Personal Experience: Sources
i. What I learned living with a narcissist;
ii. Turning pain into growth: 16 powerful lessons learned from narcissistic abuse;
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Erika N. Carlson et al. You Probably Think this Paper’s About You: Narcissists’ Perceptions of their Personality and Reputation.
- How to Deal with a Narcissist.